Federal Bill Would Up Penalties for Marijuana “Trespass Grows”

A bill introduced Thursday by Congressman Jared Huffman (D-CA) and bipartisan cosponsors from California and Colorado would create new penalties for marijuana growers who grow on federal lands or who trespass on other people's property to grow and who cause environmental damages. "Trespass grows" are a tempting alternative for growers who seek to avoid having their own properties seized under federal drug asset forfeiture laws.

Growing marijuana on federal lands (or anywhere else, for that matter) is already against federal law, but the cutely-acronymed Protecting Lands Against Narcotics Trafficking (PLANT) Act would instruct the US Sentencing Commission to establish new penalties for "trespass grows." The bill identified three environmental concerns: the illegal use of pesticides, rodenticides, or high-grade fertilizers; the "substantial" pilfering of water from local aquifers, and "significant" removal of timber or other vegetation.

Pressed by law enforcement, marijuana growers have increasingly moved onto federal parks and forests, as well as private properties. Last year, in the national forests alone, eradicators cut down nearly a million plants. Officials and landowners accuse growers of leveling hilltops, starting landslides on erosion-prone hillsides, diverting and damming creeks and streams, and using large amounts of pesticides to protect their crops.

"Throughout my district and increasingly throughout the United States, we're seeing trespass marijuana grows threatening endangered wildlife, contaminating fragile salmon streams, and making forests unsafe for working and recreation," said Congressman Huffman, who represents the "Emerald Triangle" of Mendocino, Humboldt and Trinity counties in northern California. "As we move toward more rational marijuana policies, which I believe should be left to the states, it's important that we address the immediate threat to our environment and public safety posed by trespass growing operations. Where it is lawful to grow marijuana, it must be done lawfully and responsibly."

"These illegal grow sites are threatening lives, destroying public lands and devastating wildlife," said bill cosponsor Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA). "There should be stiff penalties for the people whose reckless and illegal actions are causing this environmental damage. Our legislation will make sure these criminals are held fully responsible for the harm they cause."

The bill has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee.

– Article originally from Stop the Drug War, used with permission.



  1. Anonymous on

    You are right, this is the most logical solution.

  2. Mrs. Ratsrectum on

    If Colorado regulates properly, they should NOT have to worry about trespass grows, so if they think this sort of thing will be a problem, those dumbasses had better tweak things right quick.

    This legislation is total horseshit.

  3. Mrs. Ratsrectum on

    This legislation is only useful as long as cannabis is illegal. As long as cannabis is illegal people will still take their chances tending trespass grows.

    This legislation is pretty much useless from a legal perspective in a framework in which cannabis is legal. When cannabis is legal, people will NOT have to fear asset forfeiture/confiscation of their property and criminal penalties–that is if the asshole politicians legalize and regulate it properly–and thusly the incentive for trespass grows is gone. The incentive to steal electricity to avoid detection is gone, but still there to add to profits for greedy indoor growers compared to those indoor growers who pay for their own electricity. However, this prohibitionist legislation is mostly aimed at outdoor grows rather than indoor ones such as in utility sheds, department of transportation sheds, or public park structures.

    This legislation is unnecessary because trespass grows are already illegal and the way to end or reduce the problem markedly is to eliminate the need for trespass grows in the first place. Solution: Legalization.

    Such legislation is still prohibitionist legislation because it is just another get-tough-on-crime approach and does ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO LEGALIZE. Growing pot is a NON-CRIME. People should be allowed to grow pot on their own and then you wouldn’t have to worry about this sort of shit like trespass grows. If Colorado regulates properly, they should have to worry about trespass grows, so if they think this sort of thing will be a problem, those dumbasses had better tweak things right quick.

    This legislation is total horseshit.

  4. Anonymous on

    I sort of agree with this, those guys really trash the environment…